The Most Forward-Thinking Contractor award celebrates solar installers devoted to making progress in energy and beyond in hopes of a more sustainable future.
Silicon Ranch (No. 19 on the 2020 Top Solar Contractors list) treats solar site land as an asset rather than an afterthought. The company is committed to its mission of “regenerative energy,” where it co-locates solar generation with regenerative agriculture to restore biodiversity and soil health, improve water quality and sequester atmospheric carbon and other greenhouse gases in the soil, all while keeping the land hosting its solar arrays in agricultural production.
The company works with ranchers and farmers to design holistic solar projects that co-locate mutually beneficial agricultural efforts like adaptive managed livestock grazing, grassland restoration, pollinator habitat creation and more.
Silicon Ranch minimizes land grading during site design by using advanced solar trackers that can adjust to undulating terrain, then employs technology like half-cell modules to reduce any row-to-row shading issues. Each project has a 100- to 200-ft buffer zone between the fenced solar site and any surrounding tree line to create a softer transition from forest to open space. The minimal trees the company must remove to create the buffer zone are mostly mulched and spread out to add organic matter to the soil.
Silicon Ranch also makes end-of-life roadmaps as part of its regenerative energy mission, including plans for module recycling or reuse. The company is working to share its findings on the outcomes of these regenerative energy sites to encourage other developers and installers to incorporate dual land use practices into more projects.
“Solar Power World deserves tremendous credit for all it does to advance our industry, and we at Silicon Ranch are honored to be selected as this year’s winner of the ‘Most Forward-Thinking’ award,” said Matt Beasley, chief commercial officer at Silicon Ranch. “As long-term owners and operators of our projects, Silicon Ranch is deeply committed to our partners and communities, and every day we seek to deliver enhanced value through a steadfast pursuit of continuous improvement.”